North Bay Venues Close Due to Wildfires, Others Open to Help Out

The remains of the east end of the Luther Burbank Center for Arts (Adam Grossberg/KQED)

After wildfires wiped out a large portion of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, the Santa Rosa concert hall canceled all performances through Nov. 5, while other North Bay venues plan to hold their scheduled events this week.

Along with killing 41 local residents and destroying 5,700 structures in the North Bay, the fires burned up the east wing of the Luther Burbank Center, which housed a school for autistic children. It also damaged the center's 1,400-person concert hall.

In a statement released to the media Monday, the center's representatives said that staff and local officials are assessing the damage done to the remaining structures. Until then, staff canceled all performances through Nov. 5 and promised to reimburse ticket-holders.

https://www.facebook.com/lutherburbankcenter/photos/a.65750973471.72258.8655128471/10155234421498472/

"We want to open our doors to you as soon as we can. But we won’t do that until we are sure it is safe and clean," a statement posted on the center's Facebook page read.

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The center's canceled events include a Symphony Pops tribute to Louis Armstrong, a performance by Guerra de Chistes, and an evening with Brian Reed, the creator of the S-Town podcast.

Another big event in the area that was canceled was the Lagunitas Beer Circus in Petaluma. The promoters announced the cancellation on Friday, saying it was due to public health and safety concerns.

"For those of you with plans to travel to this area, we apologize for the inconvenience. This event is at its core about supporting the local community and giving back, but this year we're going to do this differently and help the families affected by the fires," the Lagunitas statement read.

Many other venues in the North Bay canceled events but have also re-opened.

The Mystic Theatre in Petaluma canceled its Tauk show scheduled for Oct. 14, but stayed open during the week to take clothing donations, and supply hot food and temporary shelter for local residents displaced by the fire.

Displaced residents line up for food at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma
Displaced residents line up for food at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma (Courtesy of the Mystic Theatre)

Faith Moody, general manager for the Mystic, said the owners of McNear's Restaurant reached out to her early last week, asking if they could use her club to serve hot meals and have "some place safe to go." She agreed, setting up the venue so the restaurant could provide three meals a day to families affected by the fire. The staff at the theater also played cartoons on a giant screen and set up a play room for children. A day after the theater was set up, Moody said that hundreds of locals came in for food and shelter, and there were so many volunteers and donations that they had to stop accepting them.

"The city of Petaluma really stepped up," Moody said on Friday.

Moody, who had to evacuate her Santa Rosa home early Monday and later relocated to Sacramento, said she was glad to provide some kind of relief for those who were displaced.

"The situation is so much worse than what we're seeing on the news," Moody said.

Hop Monk, the small chain of brew pubs in the North Bay, closed its Sonoma restaurant but kept its other locations open. All of the shows scheduled at the various locations were also canceled except for the John Doe concert at the Novato location Sunday night. Dean Biersch, the owner of the Hop Monk chain, said "everybody came out" to see the influential punk frontman.

"There was a real question whether or not we should make this thing happen," Biersch said. "It was an indicator of what music means to people when they're struggling."

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